Amazon’s Echo Show smart displays are finally getting a feature that Google’s Nest Hubs have had for several years — gesture controls. Starting today, December 13th, you can now stop a timer by holding up your hand with your palm facing the camera on an Echo Show 8 (second gen) or Echo Show 10 (third gen).
It’s a small addition, useful if you don’t want to shout or your hands are covered in food so you don't want to tap the screen to stop the timer.
Hopefully, it’s a precursor to some more gesture controls, such as to play or pause a song or video or to snooze an alarm. All of those gestures are available on the Nest Hub Max and second-gen Nest Hub. The latter doesn’t even use a camera, relying instead on its Soli radar sensor to “see” your hand movements.
Alexa Gestures can be enabled from the device settings menu of your Show 10 or 8 by selecting “Settings,” then “Device Options,” then “Gestures.”
Along with the new Gestures capability, Amazon also announced some other new accessibility features for the Show line: Consolidated Captions, a quick way to turn on three caption features in one go on all your Echo Show devices; Call Captioning, so you can see captions for Alexa calls in near real-time; Closed Captioning, which allows you to see the text of any audio content of videos on the screen; and Alexa Captioning, so you can see captions for Alexa’s responses.
The company is also bringing Text to Speech to its smart displays. Part of the Tap to Alexa accessibility feature that lets you interact with the voice assistant using touch rather than voice, Text to Speech allows you to type out a phrase on the screen and have it spoken out loud by the Assistant. This is designed to be useful for people with speech disabilities or those who are non-verbal. The Text to Speech is available on Fire Tablets, too.